Tag Archives: john billington

So You Think You Know the Pilgrims …

One of the events of the History Film Forum in November was an advance screening of The Pilgrims, the newest documentary by Ric Burns. My primary interest in this was to see how they treated my family’s direct ancestor John Billington, infamous for being a knave and a scoundrel, but I was also curious to see how Ric Burns could give the Thanksgiving story the same thorough treatment he and his brother Ken had given The Civil War.

Because even the director, Mr. Burns himself, and the Film Forum program director acknowledged that the Pilgrims are not where one looks for a dramatic Thanksgiving story. We all know what happens, right? The Pilgrims set sail for America in search of religious freedom, struggled through the first winter, and were saved by the friendly and benevolent Indians, who fed them turkey and squash, and together all thrived into Massachusetts colony, which became the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

the_first_thanksgiving

Welllllllllll, yeah sort of not really.

[  For an interview with the director, click here. I want to quote that entire article. Go read it before you click for more below. ]

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Turkey Day

I meant to post this earlier, but things happened, like turkey, NaNo, and all the stuff I’ve left at my parents’ house showing up on my doorstep, which sadly had all the things I didn’t want and none of the things I did want, and needed a home before the mess took over.

Back to the topic at hand: As everyone knows (I hope), the “first” Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts by the Pilgrims, who were celebrating a bountiful harvest after a a couple of rough years in which many of them died from starvation and disease.  What helped them survive the next year was the assistance of the Wampanoag tribe, and Squanto of the Patuxent people, who taught them about agriculture and planting and things.  I remember seeing a picture in elementary school of Squanto planting dead fish with corn seeds and of the Pilgrims looking on in awe.  As the dead fish decayed, they would provide vital nutrients for the growing corn plants.  Mmm dericious.

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